As a business owner, you understand that competitors are trying to beat you to gain new customers. They wake up each morning wondering how to capture a larger market share and eventually dominate the niche you call home. This is part of doing business.

What you may not think about are the many other ways in which your business is under constant attack. It’s easier to defend against the threats you see coming so let’s expose these and other attacks your business may not see coming.

Who Are Your Real, Direct Competitors?

Who are your competitors? Do you have a firm grasp on the market? Many business owners believe they do but they’re lacking a clear understanding of their true competitors.

We worked with a customer in the window coverings industry. Who were their competitors? They believed their product was so superior and unlike anything in the market, so they had no real competitors. This was true, in fact, and the product was exceptional compared to everything else in the market. Yet, potential customers still purchased from other companies.

How can your exclusive customers purchase from other companies if there’s no other solution like yours? They can’t. In this example, the business owner didn’t understand that customers saw his product and the competitor’s as so similar they did not care about his many improvements. Not only did he have competitors, but hundreds of companies produced a “good enough” product for the end-user.

Before you can take on your competitors you’ll need to figure out exactly what your customers want and what they’re willing to accept.

Hubspot produces a very thorough Competitive Analysis Kit that you can work from, but the principal is simple: know your real competitors so you can fight for business on your own terms.  We also suggest starting with SpyFu to get you started on your research.

Technological Improvements Are Coming to Get You

Unlike your competitors, who may get lazy, take a day off, or simply give up and stop coming for you, technology will not stop coming. Advancement within your industry doesn’t take a day off.

It’s hard to think of even a single industry that hasn’t experienced massive disruption in the past 20 years. Photography has gone digital. Mattresses are sold online. Uber and Lyft have massively disrupted the taxi industry through apps and Etsy and eBay have created upheaval among crafters, hobbyists and garage sales. Even lightbulbs, coffee pots and your morning shower can be automated with a smartphone now.

What are the top technological challenges you face? As a marketing agency, we’re aware that tools, best practices and the very fundamentals are changing every week. How do we handle these challenges? It’s important to always be looking forward. Already we are putting together articles to help readers dominate search in 2019. It’s barely October but if we let others get a jump on our competitors, we’ll get buried in the end of year posts.

Regardless of industry, technology is coming for you. Whether that’s the internet, an app, a smart-product or a change in how customers find you, it’s still coming.

It’s the Economy, For Better or Worse

Over the past 10-15 years we’ve seen how an economic downturn can affect many businesses and put many out of business.  But you can’t do anything about the economy, right?

Well, technically that’s true. However, you can protect your business in a few ways:

  • Better future planning – don’t get caught with limited liquidity when it stops coming in. Ensure your business planning allows for a prolonged downturn so you can survive any bumps.
  • See the downturn first – learn to understand what the signals of a downturn are. Is the news in your industry gloomier? Has the national news been talking about financial issues? If you are the first to pounce on making changes to prices, services or overall value, you can reap the rewards while your clients are still trying to do it the old way.
  • Make your business downturnfriendly. Think about going to the movies. When the economy is up, people go because they have money to spend and want to be entertained. When the economy is down, people need distraction and need to be entertained. How can you apply this to your own marketing when times get tougher? In a booming economy, young businessmen and women buy suits to show off their growing wealth. In a down economy, older businessmen buy more suits to go to interviews after being laid off.

See also: 10 Rules for Surviving the Recession.

Don’t Ever Be Complacent – Someone or Something Is Coming

The most damaging attack on your business doesn’t come from outside of your business. It comes from the idea that you aren’t under attack. Complacent business owners get into a groove and forget to consistently improve and reinvent themselves. They forget to innovate or fail to spend the time necessary to ensure their own survival.

Keep an eye on your competitors, the technological changes and the economy as a whole to ensure you’re keeping ahead of your competition and thriving during the worst times.